Near Giant Forest
Big Trees Trail -- This scenic loop walk among the sequoias skirts a pretty meadow, with trailside exhibits that explain why this area is such a good habitat for sequoias. There are usually abundant wildflowers in Round Meadow in early summer. The trail is wheelchair accessible, paved with some wooden boardwalk sections.
0.7 miles/1 hr. Easy. Start at the Giant Forest Museum.
Congress Trail -- This self-guided walk circles some of Sequoia National Park's most well-known and best-loved giants. The trail is a paved loop with a 200-foot elevation gain. Here you'll find the General Sherman Tree, considered to be the largest living tree on earth. The Lincoln Tree is nearby, along with several clusters of trees, including the House and the Senate. Try standing in the middle of these small groups of trees to gain the perspective of an ant at a picnic. The walk is also dotted with inviting benches.
2 miles/1-3 hr. Easy. Start at the General Sherman Tree, just off the Generals Hwy., 2 miles northeast of Giant Forest Museum.
Crescent Meadow Loop -- The meadow is a large, picturesque clearing dotted with high grass and wildflowers, encircled by a forest of firs and sequoias. The park's oldest cabin (Tharp's Log) is along this paved route as well. This is a particularly nice hike in early morning and at dusk, when the indirect sunlight provides the best photo opportunities.
1.8 miles/1-3 hr. Easy. Begin at the Crescent Meadow parking area.
Hazelwood Nature Trail -- Follow the signs for a good walk that winds among several stands of sequoias, accompanied by exhibits that explain the relationship among trees, fire, and humans.
1 mile/1 hr. Easy. Begin on the south side of the Generals Hwy., across from the road to Round Meadow.
High Sierra Trail -- This is one gateway to the backcountry, but the first few miles of the trail also make a great day hike. Along the way, you'll find spectacular views of the Kaweah River's Middle Fork and the Great Western Divide. The trail runs along a south-facing slope, so it's warm in spring and fall. Get an early start in summer. From the trail head, cross two wooden bridges over Crescent Creek until you reach a junction. Tharp's Log is to the left, with the High Sierra Trail to the right. Hike uphill through the damage done by the Buckeye Fire of 1988, a blaze ignited by a discarded cigarette 3,000 feet below, near the Kaweah River. After hiking 0.8 miles, you'll reach Eagle View, which offers a picturesque vision of the Great Western Divide. On the south side of the canyon are the craggy Castle Rocks. Continue on to see Panther Rock, Alta Peak, and Alta Meadow. At 2.8 miles is a sign for the Wolverton Cutoff, a trail used as a stock route between the Wolverton trail head and the high country. A bit farther on, you'll come upon Panther Creek and a small waterfall. At 3.3 miles, you'll see pink-and-gray Panther Rock. Follow a few more creeks to reach the last fork of Panther Creek, running down a steep, eroded ravine.
9 miles/6 hr. Moderate. The trail head is near the restrooms at the Crescent Meadow parking area.
Huckleberry Trail -- This is a great hike, offering tremendous beauty without the crush of too many people. It passes through forests and meadows, near a 100-year-old cabin, and by an old American Indian village. The first mile of this hike takes you along the Hazelwood Nature Trail. Head south at each junction along the way until you see a big sign with blue lettering that marks the start of Huckleberry Trail. You'll pass a small creek and meadow before reaching a second sign to Huckleberry Meadow. The next mile is steep and crosses beneath sequoias, dogwoods, and white firs. At the 1.5-mile point is Squatter's Cabin, a log building built in the 1880s. East of the cabin is a trail junction. Head north (left) up a short hill. At the next junction, veer left along the edges of Circle Meadow for about 0.3 miles before you reach another junction. On the right is a short detour to Bear's Bathtub, a pair of sequoias hollowed by fire and filled with water. Legend has it that an old mountain guide named Chester Wright once surprised a bear taking a bath here, hence its name. Continue on the trail heading northeast to the Washington Tree, which is almost as big as the General Sherman Tree, and then on to Alta Trail. Turn west (left) to Little Deer Creek. On both sides of the creek are American Indian mortar holes. At the next junction, head north (right) to return to the Generals Highway and the last leg of the Huckleberry Trail to the parking area.
4 miles/2-3 hr. Moderate. Begin at the Hazelwood Nature Trail parking area, 1/3 mile east of Giant Forest Museum on the Generals Hwy.
Moro Rock -- This walk climbs 300 feet up 400 steps that twist along this gigantic boulder perched perilously on a ridge top. Take it slowly. The view from the top is breathtaking, stretching to the Great Western Divide, which looks barren and dark, like the end of the world. The mountains are often snowcapped well into summer. During a full moon, the view is even stranger and more beautiful.
0.3 miles/30-60 min. Moderate. Begin at the Moro Rock parking area.
Moro Rock & Soldiers Loop Trail -- This hike cuts cross-country from the Giant Forest Village to Moro Rock, heading through a forest dotted with giant sequoias. Be advised that a carpet of ferns occasionally hides the trail. It pops out at Moro Rock, and then it's just a quick heart-thumper to the top.
4.6 miles/3-4 hr. Moderate. The trail head is just west of Giant Forest Museum.
Trail of the Sequoias -- This trail offers a longer, more remote hike into Giant Forest, away from the crowds and along some of the more scenic points of the plateau. The first 0.3 miles is along the Congress Trail before heading uphill at Alta Trail. Look for signs that read TRAIL OF THE SEQUOIAS. After 1.5 miles, including a 0.5-mile steep climb among giant sequoias, you'll encounter the ridge of the Giant Forest. Here you'll find a variety of trees, young and old, fallen and sturdy. Notice the shallow root system of fallen trees and the lightning-blasted tops of others still standing. The trail continues to Log Meadow, past Crescent Meadow, and to Chimney Tree, a sequoia hollowed by fire. At the junction with Huckleberry Trail, follow the blue and green signs straight (north) toward Sherman Tree and back to Congress Trail.
6 miles/4 hr. Moderate. The trail head is at the northeast end of the General Sherman Tree parking area.
Near Grant Grove
Azalea Trail -- This is a pleasant trail at any time, and particularly beautiful in late June and early July when the azaleas along Sequoia Creek are in full, fragrant bloom. From the visitor center, walk past the amphitheater to the Sunset Campground and cross CA 180. The first mile joins the South Boundary Trail as it meanders through Wilsonia and crisscrosses Sequoia Creek in a gentle climb. After 1.5 miles, you'll come to the third crossing of Sequoia Creek, which may be dry in late summer but still lush with ferns and brightly colored azaleas along its banks. Return the way you came.
3 miles/1-2 hr. Easy. The trail head begins at the Kings Canyon Visitor Center.
Big Stump Trail -- This trail meanders through what was once a grove of giant sequoias. All that's left today are the old stumps and piles of 100-year-old sawdust. A brochure available at the visitor centers describes the logging that occurred here in the 1880s. To continue onward, see the Hitchcock Meadow Trail described below, which leads to Viola Fall.
1 mile/1 hr. Easy. Begin at the Big Stump Picnic Area near the CA 180 entrance to Grant Grove from Kings Canyon.
Dead Giant Loop -- This easy, meandering loop trail takes you along a lush meadow to the shell of what was once an impressive forest giant. The Dead Giant Loop and the North Grove Loop (described below) share the first 0.8 miles. The trail descends a fire road and, after 0.3 miles, hits a junction. Take the lower trail, continuing along the fire road. After another 0.5 miles, you'll break off from the North Grove Loop and head south around a lush meadow. It's another 0.3 miles to a sign that reads DEAD GIANT. Turn right (west) to see what's left of this large sequoia. The trail climbs slightly as it circles a knoll and comes to Sequoia Lake Overlook. The lake was formed in 1899 when the Kings River Lumber Company built a dam on Mill Flat Creek. The water was diverted down a flume to the town of Sanger. During logging times, millions of board feet of giant sequoias were floated down that flume to be finished at a mill in Sanger. Continue around the loop back to the DEAD GIANT sign and then head back to the parking area.
2.3 miles/1 1/2 hr. Easy. The trail head is at the lower end of the General Grant Tree parking area. It begins near a locked gate with a sign that reads NORTH GROVE LOOP.
General Grant Tree Trail -- This walk leads to the huge General Grant Tree, which is the nation's only living national shrine. In 1956, President Eisenhower gave the Grant Tree this designation in memory of Americans who gave their lives in wartime. The walk includes signs to help visitors interpret forest features.
0.6 miles/30 min. Easy. Begin at the Grant Tree parking area 1 mile northwest of the visitor center.
Hitchcock Meadow Trail -- This trail leads to the pretty Viola Fall. The first 0.5 miles mirrors the Big Stump Trail described above; continue hiking another 0.3 miles to the Hitchcock sequoia stumps. Notice the small sequoias in this area; they are descendants of the giant sequoias logged in the last century. At this point, the trail climbs slightly to a ridge, where it reenters Kings Canyon National Park before descending steeply to Sequoia Creek. Cross the creek on a culvert bridge toward a sign directing hikers to Viola Fall, a series of short steps that, during high water, merge into a single waterfall. It's dangerous to venture down into the canyon, but above it are several flat places that make great picnic spots.
3.5 miles/2 hr. Easy. Begin at the Big Stump Picnic Area near the entrance to Grant Grove from Kings Canyon.
North Grove Loop -- This trail follows an abandoned mill road from yesteryear. It cuts through stands of dogwood, sugar pine, sequoia, and white fir. You'll find a large, dead sequoia that shows evidence of a fire.
1.5 miles/1-2 hr. Easy. Begin at the lower end of the General Grant Tree parking area.
Park Ridge Trail -- Begin by walking south along the ridge, where views of the valley and peaks dominate. On a clear day, you can see Hume Lake in Sequoia National Forest, the San Joaquin Valley, and occasionally the Coast Range 100 miles away. Return the way you came.
4.7 miles/3 hr. Easy. Begin at the Panoramic Point parking area, a 2.5-mile drive down a steep road from Grant Grove Village.
Sunset Trail -- This hike climbs 1,400 feet past two waterfalls and a lake. After crossing the highway, the trail moves to the left around a campground. After 1.3 miles, you'll follow the South Boundary Trail toward Viola Fall. You'll then reach a paved road where you can head to the right to see the park's original entrance. Return the way you came, or follow the road to the General Grant Tree parking area and walk to the visitor center.
6 miles/3-4 hr. Moderate to strenuous. Begin across the road from the Kings Canyon Visitor Center.
Near Cedar Grove
Bubbs Creek Trail -- The Bubbs Creek Trail begins by crossing and recrossing Copper Creek. This site was once an American Indian village, and shards of obsidian can still be found on the ground. After the first mile, you'll enter a swampy area that offers a good place to watch for wildlife. The trail here closes in on the river, where deer and bears drink. At 2 miles, you'll come to a junction. The trail to Paradise Valley heads north (left), while the hike to Bubbs Creek veers right and crosses Bailey Bridge, over the South Fork of the Kings River. Continue east over the four small wooden bridges that cross Bubbs Creek. The creek was named after John Bubbs, a prospector and rancher who arrived here in 1864. The trail will climb on the creek's north side, throwing in a few steep switchbacks to keep you alert. The switchbacks provide nice alternating views of the canyon of Paradise Valley and Cedar Grove. At 3 miles, you'll come to a large emerald pool with waterfalls. Far above is a rock formation known as the Sphinx -- John Muir named the feature after Egypt's famous likeness. At 4 miles, you'll reach Sphinx Creek, a nice place to spend the day or night (with a wilderness permit). There are several campsites nearby. Hike back the way you came or on the Sentinel Trail.
8 miles/5 hr. Moderate to strenuous. The trail head is at the east end of the parking area at Road's End.
Mist Falls -- This is one of the more popular trails leading to the backcountry, but it also makes a nice day hike. The first 2 miles are dry, until you reach Bubbs Creek Bridge. Take the fork to the left and head uphill. The first waterfall is a pretty spot to take a break. From here, the trail meanders along the river, and through forest and swamp areas, before it comes out at the base of Mist Falls, a wide expanse of a waterfall that flows generously in spring. There are dozens of great picnic spots here and along the way up. Return along the same route or, at Bubbs Creek Bridge, cross over and head back on the Sentinel Trail, which adds a mile to the hike. From Mist Falls, you can also continue on to Paradise Valley, described below.
8 miles/2-3 hr. Moderate to strenuous. Begin at the short-term parking area at Road's End past Cedar Grove Village and follow the signs.
Muir's Rock -- Okay, so you can't walk too far, don't have time, and so on. Well, now there's no excuse. This level, simple, short stroll takes you to one of the most historically significant spots in the park's modern-day history. From this wide, flat rock, John Muir delivered impassioned speeches about the Sierra. When referring to logging the giant trees, he said that mankind may as well "sell the rain clouds and the snow and the rivers to be cut up and carried away, if that were possible."
300 ft./10 min. Easy. The pulpit is 300 ft. from the parking area at Road's End, along the trail to Zumwalt Meadow.
Paradise Valley -- This makes a great overnight hike -- the valley is pretty and there's much to explore -- but it can also be accomplished as an ambitious day hike. Follow the Mist Falls trail to the falls and then head up 3 miles of switchbacks to Paradise Valley. The valley is 3 miles long, relatively flat, and beautiful. Hike through the valley to connect with the John Muir Trail and the rest of the backcountry, or return the way you came.
12 miles/7-10 hr. Moderate to strenuous. Begin at the short-term parking area at Road's End past Cedar Grove Village and follow the signs.
River Trail -- This trail heads upstream as it hugs the river and can be shortened if you just want to walk to the waterfalls (0.5 miles round-trip) or Zumwalt Meadow (3 miles round-trip; a shorter version is listed below). The waterfalls are 0.3 miles along the trail. The falls are short but powerful -- do not attempt to climb them. Just north of the falls, back toward the parking area, is a sign that reads ZUMWALT MEADOW -- ROAD'S END. Take this trail, which initially hugs the highway before breaking off into a beautiful canyon. At 1.5 miles is the Zumwalt Bridge. If you were to cross the bridge, you'd be 0.3 miles from the Zumwalt Meadow parking area. Do not cross the bridge; instead, continue onward up the canyon for another 0.3 miles to Zumwalt Meadow. From here there's a slight incline. In 0.5 miles you'll reach a fork; keep right. The rest of the hike follows the riverbank, which sports plenty of swimming and fishing holes. After 2.5 miles, you'll come to another footbridge. Cross over and it's a short 0.5-mile walk back to the Road's End parking area, where you can try to catch a ride. Otherwise, retrace your steps back to your car.
5.5 miles/4 hr. Easy. From the Cedar Grove Ranger Station, drive 3.1 miles to the Roaring River Fall parking area.
Zumwalt Meadow -- This hike takes you across a lovely meadow, with lots of broad views. Cross the bridge and walk left for 300 feet to a fork. Take the trail that leads to the right for a bird's-eye view of the meadow below before descending 50 feet. The trail runs along the meadow's edge, where the fragrance of ponderosa pine, sugar pine, and incense cedar fill the air. The loop returns along the banks of the South Fork of the Kings River; watch for Grand Sentinel and North Dome rising in the background.
1.5 miles/1 hr. Easy. The trail begins at the Zumwalt Meadow parking area, 1 mile west of Road's End, past Cedar Grove Village.
Elsewhere in the Parks
Cold Springs Nature Trail (in Sequoia's Mineral King) -- This easy loop showcases the natural history and beauty of the region. It passes near private cabins left over from the days before 1978, when the Mineral King area was added to Sequoia National Park. The walk offers views of the Mineral King Valley and surrounding peaks. It can get hot and dry in summer, so carry additional water.
2 miles/1 hr. Easy. Begin at Mineral King's Cold Springs Campground, across from the ranger station.
Kings River National Recreation Trail -- It's a long drive, but after a hike in upper Kings Canyon, this is a great place to see what the canyon looks like from the bottom. The views here rival anything in the park, with peaks towering overhead and the river rushing nearby. The first mile alternates between rapids and pools that offer great fishing. At 1.5 miles, you can see up Converse Creek and its rugged canyon. At 3 miles, you'll find Spring Creek, a short but pretty waterfall and a good place to rest. You can turn around here for a total hike of 6 miles, or proceed for the 10-mile option.
From this point, the trail ascends the steep Garlic Spur, a ridge that ends suddenly at the ledge of the canyon. The trail above Spring Creek is flecked with obsidian, the nearest source of which is the Mono Craters, more than 100 miles to the north. For that reason, many believe this trail was used for trading by the Monache Indians. After the long, steep ascent, the trail heads down to Garlic Meadow Creek. A short distance upstream are large pools and wide resting areas. Beyond the creek, the trail is not maintained.
6-10 miles/4-8 hr., depending on distance traveled. Easy to Spring Creek; strenuous to Garlic Meadow Creek. On CA 180, 6 miles west of Big Stump Entrance, turn north on FS Rd. 12SO1, a dirt road marked MCKENZIE HELIPORT, DELILAH LOOKOUT, CAMP 4.5 MILES. Drive 18 miles to the Kings River. Turn west and drive 2 1/2 miles to Rodgers Crossing. Cross the bridge and turn east, following signs to the Kings River Trail. The trail head is at the east end of a parking lot another 7 miles ahead, at the road's end.
Marble Fork Trail (in Sequoia's Foothills) -- This is one of the most scenic hikes in the Foothills area of Sequoia National Park. The walk leads to a deep gorge, where the roaring Marble Fall spills in a cascade over multicolored boulders. From the parking area, begin hiking north up the Southern California Edison flume. After crossing the flume on a wooden bridge, watch on the right for a sign to the trail and head east uphill. The trail has some steep switchbacks and is near some large poison oak bushes that sport stems 3 inches wide. Watch out for these bare sticks in late fall and winter. The trail will then begin to flatten out and settle into a slight slope for the rest of the hike up to the waterfalls. Look for large yuccas and California bay trees along the way. After 2 miles, you'll be able to see the waterfalls as the trail cuts through white-and-gray marble. Once you reach the falls, it's almost impossible to hike any farther, so don't attempt it. The marble slabs break easily, and boulders in the area can get slick. Be extra careful when the water is high. This is a good hike year-round but can be hot during summer. Upon your return, be sure to check yourself thoroughly for ticks.
6 miles/4-6 hr. Strenuous. Follow the dirt road at the upper end of Potwisha Campground, which is 3 3/4 miles east of the Ash Mountain Entrance. There is a small parking area past campsite no. 16.
Potwisha and River's Edge -- This was the site of an American Indian village known as Potwisha, home to a tribe of Monache. The main village was just about where the dump station is now. On the bedrock are mortar holes where the women ground acorns into meal. From here, the trail continues up the river to a sandy beach and a good swimming hole. The trail turns east upstream before the suspension bridge, then northward up a short but steep hill to the road. Turn west (left) and hike the short distance back to the parking area.
0.5 miles/30 min. Easy. From the Ash Mountain Entrance, take the highway to the Potwisha Campground. At the campground entrance (which will be to your left), turn right down a paved road toward an RV dump station until it hits a dead end at a parking area. Continue toward the river on a footpath to open bedrock.
Wildman Meadow (Sequoia National Forest) -- This hike through the Monarch Wilderness starts with a relatively easy trek to Deer Cove. After reaching Deer Cove, it's a steep ascent to 7,500 feet -- a 1,900-foot gain in 5 miles. From Deer Cove, hike 3.5 miles to a sandy knoll and a good view into the rugged canyon drainage area of Grizzly Creek. At 6.5 miles, you'll top the ridge and cross over to the north-facing slope. A quick drop lands you in Wildman Meadow.
14 miles/10 hr. Strenuous. The trail head for Deer Cove Trail is just north of CA 180, 2 1/2 miles west of Cedar Grove and the Kings Canyon border in the Sequoia National Forest.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.